Imprint Group | Not Your Average Event Management Firm
While most firms limit themselves to one facet of the event management process, Imprint Group defies conventional infrastructure.
They unite all dimensions of the process, providing an all-inclusive event planning service dedicated to meeting all of their partner-client demands. Imprint Group presents unique services that their clients can’t get enough of by eliminating the need to compartmentalize the project and outsource various production components to different vendors.
Not only does Imprint Group house a robust team of destination management and event planning experts, but it also caters to the entertainment, creative branding, and production aspects of an event that most traditional event management companies fall short of. Imprint Group zooms in on the minute details, bringing together many moving parts to forge an unforgettable experience for their clients.
Chetu first met Nicole Marsh, Owner of Imprint Group, at IMEX back in mid-October of 2017. The Imprint Group was shopping around for a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution that could scale alongside their expansion and painlessly deploy across multiple locations.
Nicole was considering both off-the-shelf and custom CRM solutions – set on locating a CRM system that would work cohesively with their preexisting environment. The only problem was that Imprint Group operates within a very niche climate that no off-the-shelf solution could accommodate.
Their legacy CRM did not have the bandwidth to support adding additional locations in Orlando, FL, and Las Vegas, NV, so the team was experiencing limited functionality.
The Debate | Custom CRM Vs. Off-The-Shelf CRM
Custom CRM’s are often met with skepticism; it’s easy to rule them out as unnecessary without the proper research and side-by-side comparisons. Contrary to popular belief, you can engineer a CRM custom-tailored to the context of your business for less than the cost of retooling an off-the-shelf solution.
Popular CRM toolkits, like Salesforce, are more expensive and far less relevant to individual needs. After considering both options, Imprint Group moved forward with Chetu’s custom CRM development.
We needed to design an ASP.NET MVC web application with SQL Server database on the back-end. Imprint Group used a Microsoft access-based application to manage all of their disciplines (production, staffing, timing, vendors, destination management, etc.).
After maxing out their bandwidth, Imprint Group suffered many limitations that negatively impacted their work and put them at a data deficit.
Our objective was to recreate their preexisting application into a web application where administrators would automate data entry and management, going beyond the traditional functions of a CRM to address the event planning needs that are unique to the industry.
Our first project with Imprint Group represented a jumping-off point for them - a solution they could evolve over time and grow with future integrations. Essentially, we were unifying disparate systems by bringing all systems under a singular umbrella.
Chetu Goes Beyond Conventional CRM Build
Chetu created the MVC app with a repository pattern. We programmed the application using a bilateral log-in mechanism, where admin and individual users can log on and view a series of modules that Imprint Group outlined prior to kickoff.
Each admin can register the user, and the user can add their account using a “Create Account” mechanism. The admin manages the office staff, as well as the client-specific information related to each of their projects.
Both the admin and users can view the different event spaces and locations, filtering the results using a series of specifications. To help Imprint Group keep pace with impending tasks, the admin sets the notification settings that are then issued to individual users. These notifications are also displayed on a dashboard, among other relevant details, such as recent clients, programs, reports, and action items.
The web application goes beyond your standard CRM build using a modular format for accounts, programs, vendors, staff, and reporting.
Custom CRM Project Transitions Into Long-Term Partnership
During the development phase, our engineers leveraged the following technologies:
- IIS Version 7.0
- Visual Studio 2017
- SQL Server
When trading in one system for a new system, one item inevitably appears in the development roadmap: a migration that transitions old records from the legacy system to the new system. If there are roadblocks, they often occur during the migration. However, our communication model circumvents these concerns with complete transparency.
We asked Nicole Marsh, owner of Imprint Group if there was anything she would change about the development process. She replied that there wasn’t anything she would change about her Chetu development team.
Even though it was in the early stages of our relationship and Imprint Group was skeptical of the overseas model, it had "worked out extremely well, and the time zone deficit is actually on our side."
Imprint Group sent edits and concerns during their workday, and they were addressed by our development team immediately, fixed by the time they came in the next morning.
By holding weekly meetings, our development team assimilated to the Imprint Group's native infrastructure and built a custom CRM solution that integrates seamlessly with their workflows.
The Final Outcome
The final custom CRM software included the following functionalities:
- Login Functionality: We have two users who log in to the application. The first one is the admin, who is responsible for creating new users. After registering a new user, the system sends an email to the user containing their login credentials.
- The second one is a registered user who can see only their information. After logging in, they can see the notification list of upcoming events.
- Dashboard Screen: This screen displays links to all the different modules relevant to the user.
- Accounts Page or Client Information Form: We can create new accounts, and we have established a group name that mirrors the name of the account. We select “Type and Industry” in the file information section from the “Group Profile,” where we have the program “Begin Date” & “End Date.” Under the “Client Contact” section, we have the option to select services like “DMC,” “Agency,” and “Production & Entertainment,” which are also part of a program module.
- Programs Page: We can create an event for a specific date and time.
- Vendors/Staff: We can add information for each vendor/staff (currently, it’s under “Resource Information”).
- Reporting: We can create different types of reports, aggregating information by location, production calendar, sales-specific details, and lead source data.
Imprint Group has successfully deployed their new solution across all of their locations, and it has become an integral part of their day-to-day. While they began with two developers to expedite the project and bring their finalized CRM to market by May, they have scaled down to one developer for the time being.
After working collaboratively alongside Chetu, the Imprint Group hopes to retain their original project team for all further projects.
Imprint Group is still evolving, and they have big plans for the future. Yes, with a custom CRM Imprint Group was able to conquer their scalability concerns, but they also received a solution that they could monetize later down the line.
They will soon begin white-labeling their custom CRM solution, dismantling the rest of their software silos, and bringing all functionalities to a unified platform. These plans include time management modules, third-party accounting modules, vendor/staffing programs, and client sign-in/sign-up mechanisms.